Saturday, July 29, 2006

Spammers Waste My Time, Pay Me Over $90 an Hour

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , ,

junk e-mail, bane of my existence

I’ve preached before about how much I value my time. I even calculated the hard dollar figure of my time’s worth to be $90/hour. Of course, I don’t even make that much at my day job, and I wouldn’t charge a friend or family that much to lend them a helping hand.

But if someone wastes my time, they owe me $90 for every hour they waste.

So far, I’ve only been successful in collecting that fee from a single person… rather, a single company. A few years ago, I experimented with a new law on the books in Maryland which provided for monetary damages to recipients of unsolicited commercial e-mails, a.k.a. spam. I had plenty of such e-mails come into my inbox each day, so I targeted some of the worst offenders, did some research to find their source, and filed suit in Maryland Small Claims Court.

In each complaint, I asked for the statutory damages automatically provided by Maryland’s anti-spam law, an amount which was set at $500 per spam e-mail. And while I easily could have turned my spam mail folder into a money-making operation, the dream wasn’t as long-lived as I would have liked it to be.

Unfortunately, the law was eventually ruled unconstitutional because it tried to control interstate commerce–something an individual state can’t do with its own laws. And while the terms of the settlement agreements I reached with some of these spammers prohibits me from disclosing details, I can say that I was successful in collecting well over my $90/hour fee from one of them.

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